Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit, is among regional leaders speaking out on the importance of China’s interest in the Caribbean.
Skerrit was among various regional leaders who met with the Chinese President Xi Jinping in Trinidad on Sunday and in an interview with Chinese network CCTV he said the visit was ‘an important step’ for the region.
“It signals China’s continued interest in the Caribbean because often times we are regarded as small countries, specks of sand in the Caribbean in the Caribbean Sea,” he said. “And for China to regard the Caribbean so seriously speaks volumes on the manner China views small islands states because China has been a champion of small island states for a very long time.”
Days before the visit of the Chinese president, US vice president, Joe Biden, also came to the region. When asked why so much emphasis is being placed on the Caribbean by the big international powers, Skerrit said regional governments have been synchronizing their position on important international matters.
“We normally take a unified position,” he said. “So, for example, if there is an issue at the United Nations, more than likely you will find CARICOM states would vote in one particular direction….now more than ever we a synchronizing our foreign policy, we are synchronizing our positions one very important international matters…”
Skerrit also said Caribbean leaders are not into seeking to play China against the United States. “This is not the case at all,” he noted. “China is our friend, likewise the United States is our friend.”
He pointed out that China ‘listens to a great extent’ while the US ‘fails to listen on several issues.’
He blamed the inaction of the US for China’s greater interest in the region and noted that unless the US is willing to adapt and make amendments to its policy to the Caribbean, this will continue to happen.
“It is not by our actions this is happening, it is by the inaction of the United States,” he said. “(But) we are not into the business of playing one against the other.”